Some feminists see the world through the question “How do women lose out?” There are so many ways- sexual violence, poorer work prospects, supporting men emotionally and with physical care… AFAB trans mutilate their bodies, AMAB trans encroach on women’s space. If trans is rejection of gender roles, it is highly stylised. Surely it would be better to be your true self without dressing up and pretending? I agree. Transition was my way to being my true self, but at such a cost! I did it because it was the only way I saw.
Men compete, viciously. In Siri Hustvedt’s academia, she enjoys the argument. The more you know the better your position. “Bite back, hard, and never cry,” she advises a colleague.
George Orwell despised softness and snivelling. He was an intellectual and political analyst, on the Left, and a fighter who had survived his Prep school, as well as Catalonia.
I hoped the law would be a cerebral, rational haven, and found it a battlefield. Even on the Left I find women fighting for equality and seeing me as against them. The Right is for a neo-liberal privatisation of all human activity, controlled by private wealth. The Left is about what we do together, social work, a safety net for those in need, public spaces, new antibiotics and caring for our biosphere- all the many market failures the Right ignores or devalues- but we still compete.
I write, and read that literature is a feminine pursuit, so devalued, worth less than rigorous intellectual manly pursuits.
I need to be at ease with my emotions, aware of them, able to express them, and find I am so imbued with the idea that this is weakness that it is a continual struggle; and my society finds it uncomfortable. That, too, is a way we struggle with each other.
Hustvedt shows how we split off parts of ourselves, labelling them “feminine” and thereby devaluing them or denying them. My femininity is a social construct and my engagement with it makes me wonder if “masculine” traits are in me yet devalued because I must assert my femininity or demanded of me but not in me. Transition helped me find a stereotype which is so much closer to Real Me yet capable of deluding me.
We spend our time, and we spend ourselves- usefully or frittering. Sitting at home I imbibe microplastics in tap or bottled water, tiny particles which fall from clothes and possessions as well as from throw-away packaging, then accumulate toxins. So many threats! Who would save their life will lose it. Everything is a struggle, so I must struggle for something I find worthwhile.